anchored in light

A lifestyle blog about finding light in every avenue of life

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Everly's Birth Story

Just before we get started, I'll say this. This is a pretty raw post. It's unedited, just whatever came to mind as I wrote it and I cried my way through most of the end of it. I wasn't sure I could get back through it to edit but I still wanted to tell the story, so here it is. 

I went into labor on Wednesday morning at about 4 AM. Well, really I woke up and went to go to the bathroom and realized that my water had broken. Or, at least I thought that my water had broken. I’d heard so many stories about how your water almost never breaks outside the hospital that I wasn’t really sure I knew what was happening. Especially since I’ve never had a baby before and all sorts of crazy things happen with your body that have never happened before. 
It wasn’t too much longer before I was pretty positive that my water had broken (fun fact, when your water breaks, it doesn’t just gush once and you’re done and at least for me it does feel very much like you’re peeing your pants). I woke Brian up to tell him that I was in labor, but I wasn’t really sure what to do about it. I knew that typically, on tv, when your water breaks, you go straight to the hospital, but in my birth class, I remembered them saying that you don’t go to the hospital until your contractions are regular and about 3-5 minutes apart, which mine weren’t. So I looked it up and then called my mom. She told me to go in and get checked. I ended up calling the doctor and found out that yes, when your water breaks, you go in. So Brian made us breakfast since I knew that once we got to the hospital I wouldn’t be able to eat anything until after the baby was born. We packed up our things and headed out, it was probably around 6 AM at this point. 
We listened to "I’ll Be" by Edwin McCain on the way to the hospital.
Brian wanted her to be born on the 31st so that we could tell her she was born under a Super Blue Blood Moon. 

Once we got there and got checked in, I was feeling pretty good. They confirmed that my water had broken (by testing the fluid on a pad that I’d thrown away) and then started hooking me up to an IV and such. 

Before we went in I was still seriously considering going natural. I’d heard that it was a better recovery and that getting an epidural slowed down your labor. Plus I kind of wanted to prove how tough I was, that I was really an amazing woman because I could do brith without drugs. Especially since when we went in my contractions felt like cramps and cramps I can do. I wanted to prove that I really did have this high pain tolerance. However, once they gave me pitocin and the contractions got harder, I no longer wanted to do things naturally. I couldn’t imagine going hours and hours feeling like that. It was to the point where I was starting to feel sick, so I told them to put me on the list for an epidural.

The anesthesiologist came in within a few minutes after I requested the epidural. I think that was about 10 AM and they got me all prepped. Brian sat somewhere where he couldn’t see just what they were doing so that he wouldn’t pass out and my mom (who got there not long after we did) watched the whole thing. I was a little scared and when they jabbed me to numb the area I pulled away. I remember saying, “Sorry, I’m sorry.” I knew that I couldn’t do things like that when they were working and so I started crying, but managed to stay still for the rest of the procedure. 
Once the drugs kicked in it was wonderful. I had an ideal epidural in that I couldn’t feel my contractions anymore, just my stomach getting harder and then softer again. Not only could I not feel the contractions, but I COULD still feel my legs and move them around. I probably could have walked if they would have let me. 
Then we settled in to wait. They kept coming back to check me and slowly I progressed. Everyone thought that I would deliver by 5 PM, which I was totally ok with! Labor didn’t sound so scary since they took the pain part out of it, and I was ready to meet my little girl. We passed the time by talking and watching the monitors that showed my contractions and Everly’s heart rate. They showed us what it looked like when she was sleeping and when she was awake. My OB came by periodically and checked on me and around 3 PM they had me do some practice pushes, which seemed pretty easy. They kept saying they’d come back and check me when I was further along. 
It wasn’t until 7:30ish that they finally had me start pushing with every contraction. By this point my OB had actually gone home and I was pushing with just a nurse in the room. My mom held my left leg and Brian held my right. I was so surprised that they would have me actively pushing without the doctor being there, but that’s what we did! 
I had never really imagined what pushing would be like. It wasn’t until was doing it that I realized how draining it is. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. They said that I was really good at pushing and that it wouldn’t be long before the baby was born, but then at an hour in they gave me a five-minute break and I was spent. I remember thinking that I couldn’t do this forever. My mom later told me that she thought I was strong because I never had a freak-out moment where I said, “I can’t do this” or felt like I couldn’t go on, but the truth is that I felt that at the end of almost every contraction. When we were on the third push and they’d tell me to give it everything that I had for every push, 3 times, every contraction and I felt like I had nothing left to give. In fact, I rarely felt like I was doing anything productive by that third push. All I had left was holding my breath to the count of 10 because my brain couldn’t seem to connect to the muscles that I had been using to push anymore. I’d tell my body to push, but it literally felt like my brain couldn’t get the signal through. The contraction would end and I would just lay there. It got to the point where I felt like this was all I had ever done. Laid there and pushed and got through each contraction. It felt like that was all I would ever do. Logically I knew that it had to end at some point, but emotionally that point disappeared after my OB went home. It disappeared after every time they told me that I was “so close” and yet I couldn’t see my baby’s head in the mirror that they set up for me. I swear it was about an hour in that they said she was so close that her hair was almost born. 
I got really annoyed with just about everyone by the end of labor. Every time anyone said that I was so close, I wanted to punch them in the face. It felt like they were just lying to me to get me to keep pushing. 
Finally, my nurse went and got another nurse. She said she wanted her to check something. It wasn’t until she started talking to the nurse in front of us about how she wasn’t sure that the baby was going to fit under my pubic bone that I wondered if maybe this really never would end or that they’d have to do a c-section. My mom tried asking the nurse about this, but the nurse deflected her question. 
Then the doctor came in, I have no idea how long it was before delivery that he came in, but I think it was about a half an hour. He asked me if I thought that I could keep pushing for awhile. I have no idea what I said in response, but I said yes, because really, what other choices did I have? 
When it came time to deliver her I could actually feel the contractions, not in a painful way, but I could feel the pressure of her on my tailbone. I was pretty sure that I was going to break my tailbone, but I didn’t worry too much about it, I figured that if it broke, it broke, there was nothing that I could do about it. 
I remember when I finally DID see her head, and even then it seemed to take forever for her to get out. They immediately put her on my stomach. I looked at her, hardly believing that she had come out of me, that we had made it, and suddenly they were taking her away.

I thought that they were going to weigh her and take her measurements, even though I’d said that I wanted to do skin to skin. I know that they can hold off on most of the things that they do until after skin to skin, so I didn’t really understand why they had taken her, but I wasn’t worried. 
Not until I looked over and suddenly there were about 10 or 15 people huddled around her. 
The doctor who delivered her was so kind. Explaining to me both what he was doing as he stitched me up and what the people huddled around my baby were doing. Then she was gone. They took her out of the room and all I could do was cry and think over and over, I want my baby back. 
That was the moment when I realized just how wrong everything could go. 
As much as you know that there are chances that there will be complications and that they might have to do a c-section or something like that, I was completely unprepared. Everly had done fine throughout labor. Her heart rate was always good, in fact, she was even taking naps between pushes (at least in the beginning). Even when I thought that they were going to have to take her via C-section, I thought I was pretty guaranteed an hour of skin to skin with my baby. All the things that I had learned told me that skin to skin was important. They even had signs about it around labor and delivery, titling it, “The Sacred Hour.”
Just like that, my sacred hour was gone. My mom stayed with me, I sent Brian away with the baby. I didn’t want her to be alone.
They came in and told me that I wouldn’t be able to see my baby until my epidural had worn off a little bit, it would be at least an hour, maybe two. They also told me that Everly would have to stay in the NICU transition unit for at least 6 hours, during which time she might be able to “test” her way out by doing well enough.
I couldn’t imagine waiting a whole hour to see her, but luckily, the time went by pretty quickly. They transferred me to a wheelchair and took me down to see her. She was laying on a table with plastic sides, already covered in wires and things to monitor her. I remember rubbing her little feet for the first time. 

The people taking care of her were very kind and told me that I could hold her. They put her in my arms and I got to hold her for just a few minutes before we had to go. 

The whole experience left me feeling robbed. Being pregnant is kind of surreal experience. You find out that you’re growing a human inside of you, but at least for me, it never really seemed to hit that I was creating another human being. No matter the evidence, from the growing baby bump to the ultrasounds and the little kicks and nudges that she gave, it all seemed like a dream or something. I was always scared that she was going to be taken away, that I would lose her somehow. Then we went into labor and I was waiting for that moment when they gave her to me, to know that she was mine, that I had made her. When they took her away right after birth, it made it feel like maybe I hadn’t ever really been pregnant at all. I felt completely out of control of what happened to her. It all seemed so unreal, especially since after I gave birth to her my baby bump was virtually gone. It all added to the feeling that she wasn’t going to come back and that it was never real.
Especially when she did earn her way out of NICU and they told us in our room that she was just going to the nursery for a few minutes and then they would bring her to us. And then they didn’t. I never had my baby in my room with me the whole time we were in the hospital. I never held her without wires until the day she was discharged from NICU and just like labor, they were always telling me that she was going to be out soon, and then she would have to stay another day. One problem would resolve and another would take its place until there was a day where I seriously considered walking out of the hospital with her. I wondered what it would take to kidnap my own child from the hospital because she seemed fine to me and they kept placing these restrictions on her, things that she had to do and when she’d done them, they’d give us new ones for what she had to do before she could leave. I had to punch in a code or be let through security doors any time I wanted to see my baby. I had to make sure she ate a certain amount and I had to pump every time I fed her. These were all things that they told me I had to do. I had no say in my child’s care and her life. All I could do is hope that the doctors who were in charge of her were more concerned with making sure she was healthy than making hoops for us to jump through. 
It was especially hard for me because I couldn’t walk after I had Everly. I can’t say for certain why, I’m pretty sure that I dislocated my pelvis during labor, but I never saw a doctor about it at the hospital. The nurses never seemed concerned that I couldn’t even make it to the bathroom from the bed on my own. I requested to see a Physical Therapist, but no one ever came to see me. So if I wanted to see Everly, I had to get in a wheelchair that had almost no padding, be let out through the security doors, down 3 floors and through the labor and delivery doors, down another long hallway and through NICU security doors. Then I had to wash my hands. All before I could see her.
The day after delivery I was so sick from the pain medication that I think I only made it down to see her once. We’d tried to attend a breastfeeding class and had to leave early because I wasn’t feeling well. I remember when we wheeled our way into the class. We’d gotten there late because of the time they were checking my vitals at. The room had maybe 3-4 other couples and I was the only one in a wheelchair. The only one wearing a hospital gown. Which wouldn’t have bothered me so much except that after we left early and I spent the rest of the day in our room I kept Brian with me. I felt like a terrible mother already because not only was I incapable of walking, but I was sick. I didn’t really want to go down to see her because I felt so unwell. Not only that, but I was keeping her father from her for myself. 
Every expectation that I had about what would happen after Everly was born was gone. I had to tell myself not to dwell on all the things that were taken away from me, or the fact that for the first few days of her life, she saw more of the nurses who took care of her than me or her dad. 
I couldn’t even let myself really hope that they were going to let her leave when they finally decided that she was doing well. Even after we went through all the hoops that you have to go through to get discharged, the videos we had to watch, the powerpoint presentation that we had to go through, the car seat test that she had to pass. Even after they gave us the “official go ahead” to take her home, I kept waiting for them to pull the rug out from under us again. I kept waiting for something to happen that would mean that she had to stay. I was convinced that we were never going to get out of there. Even when we were waiting in the lobby after they’d done their little graduation ceremony where we took pictures of her leaving and the board they made saying that she graduated, and all I had to do was wait for Brian to bring the car around, I felt like they were going to take her back. I felt like there was no way that we could really be taking her home. 

On the way home, we listened to the same song that we’d listened to on the way to the hospital and I just lost it. The lyrics were way too close to home and I was still somehow worried that Everly wasn’t going to be with us.
I still worry that she’s going to have to go back. With every person that comes to visit her I worry that they are carrying some kind of virus or bacteria that even though they aren’t sick, is going to get Everly sick and that they’ll take her away from me again. 
Slowly I'm working on knowing that she is going to be here with us. I'm a little less worried about them taking her away, although whenever she sleeps too long it still makes me nervous. 
Being part of the NICU parent club is not a club I ever wanted to join, but I am grateful for all the nods and kind words that complete strangers gave to me as we passed each other on the way to see our babies. 
I'm so grateful that she's home with us and that we can see her anytime we want and most grateful that she is healthy. 
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